May 3, 2013

CAMARILLO, California (AP) — A huge Southern California wildfire burned through coastal wilderness to the beach on Friday then stormed back through canyons toward inland neighborhoods when winds reversed direction.

The wind shift forced fire commanders to order a new evacuation of homes in a neighborhood along a stretch of road overlooking smoke-filled coastal canyons.

Fears arose after gusty Santa Ana winds from the northeast faded and ocean breezes from the southwest pushed inland.

The “worst-case weather scenario” sent flames ripping through fresh fuel just to the east of where the blaze charred wild lands a day earlier, said Ventura County fire spokesman Bill Nash.

“In the perfect scenario we’d just hope for the wind to go away but what happened is the wind just turned around,” Nash said.

The wind-whipped fire erupted Thursday in the Camarillo area, threatening as many as 4,000 homes but only damaging 15. No injuries were reported.

The blaze 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Los Angeles was only 10 percent contained, and the work of more than 900 firefighters, aided by air tankers, was just beginning.

Earlier, it jumped the Pacific Coast Highway and burned on a beach shooting range of Naval Base Ventura County.

The base ordered an evacuation of a nearby housing area as a precautionary measure and urged personnel in other housing to voluntarily leave.

Students from the Kilusan Pilipino Club at Cal State Channel Islands, which was evacuated, took refuge at an internet cafe.

“I see the fire is right next to my apartment complex, it was really confusing in the morning then it hit me like a brick right when I was leaving the campus because I saw the fire,” said student Kenneth Sagisi.

While they will be opening their homes to each other, the fire has closed the school until further notice. Graduating seniors fear the fire will complicate their final days of college.

“We’re graduating so hopefully the school doesn’t burn down or else I don’t know where they will hold classes and i don’t want to not graduate because of that fire,” said Gardy Borromeo.

The smoke from the fire can be seen some 8 miles away in the Filipino-dense town of Oxnard.

The Filipino American Council of Ventura County said there have been no reports of Filipino homes affected in the immediate areas.

Marcelino Balicat who lives and works a few miles away from the fire says he’d be ready to evacuate if necessary.

The fire reinforced predictions that California is in for a bad summer fire season because dry winter and spring weather has left brush tinder-dry.

More than 3,000 firefighters were battling six major wildfires on Friday in California, the state fir agency said.

-with reports from Steve Angeles

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